ROME, Italy (eTN) – Indonesian motorbike rider Jeffrey Polnaja arrived in Rome, Italy’s capital, which was his sixth European port of call after Spain, Portugal, France, Monaco, Switzerland.
His journey began in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta in 2006 and reached Europe after travel through Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, to name only half of the 61 countries he has crossed so far.
By the time Jeffrey finishes his “Ride for Peace” around the world journey in 2011, he will have visited 100 countries in all five continents.
The 45-year-old Polnaja, whose home town is Bandung in the Indonesian province of West Java, rides a BMW R1150GS limited edition motorbike which is equipped with a global positioning system (GPS), video camera, and extra containers for tools and supplies that are especially designed for long distance rides.
During his stay in Rome, he visited the Town Hall, and he is due to visit Vatican city. He will visit San Marino State on Italy’s Adriatic coast and Venice, before heading to Austria and Slovenia.
He will then travel to North and South America, Australia, the threshold to Indonesia. Time permitting, Jeffrey Polnaja shall visit Japan to complete his world tour.
At the press conference organized by the Indonesian Embassy within their Rome premises, Jeffrey faced a barrage of stimulating questions thrown by eTurboNews, aiming to reveal impressions fatigue, perils, moments of fear, dejection. He said: “I have experienced moments of joy when in need [and] I met simple people prepared to help and moments of dramas when I faced death, but never given way to despair. My adrenaline always empower s me when I recall the voice and innocent expression of my eight-year-old son asking me, ‘Why the world is in such a state of war.’ A heart-touching question that has inspired my five years far from home adventure.”
Some of the salient points told by Jeffrey include the risk run when shot three times in a South Asian country. The great risk to end his journey after crossing through the notorious Khyber Pass, which links Afghanistan with Pakistan. There he was hit by a drunk driver in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan, near the border with Iran. His expensive motorbike was badly damaged, its navigation system destroyed and his right arm was broken in the accident, which left-him stranded in the desert for days.
“I only had me, my bike and my God,” Jeffrey told eTN. “I had an adrenaline rush, and decided to ride as fast as I could, all physical pain disappeared.”
And went on to explain his joy when he encountered a truck driver who gave him directions to get to the nearest town so he could find food and shelter.
After this near-death experience, he crossed into Iran, where he was escorted through the dangerous border area between Pakistan and Iran, where opium is smuggled from Afghanistan.
Jeffrey revealed that although Iran is usually portrayed as being a “dangerous” country, his experience was quite the opposite. “Iranians fixed my motorbike at no cost, saying, ‘We do not want your money, you are representing us, go for peace, we want peace.’ I was very grateful to Iranians,” Jeffrey said.
His sponsors offered him a new motorbike, an offer he refused, preferring to continue his journey on the same motorbike once it was repaired. He said: “Me and the motorbike are one soul. We must bring back the sign of joy and distress. Each one will have a long story to tell.”
Jeffrey’s behavior is in line with his strong Indonesian personality: parachutist, scuba diver and a businessman who has struggled to create an industry that “now work for me and my family living.”
The note-pads that Jeffrey fills in daily contain precious material for a book that he eventually will write when he gets back home.
Asked on what he expects to achieve at the end of his journey, Jeffrey said: “I am just a rider, but I hope to see peace in the world. I hope politicians will make Peace part of their policy since a lot of people are eager to live in a world of peacefulness.’’
He added, “I want to share peace with all the people in the world. We only have one planet, and it is not for us, it is for our grandchildren.”
He has already clocked up 101,000 kilometers and still has nearly 40 more countries to visit on his ride for peace target date of 2011.
Anyone interested to meet Jeffrey Polnaja should get in touch with the Indonesia Embassy of the country he lives in. To follow Jeffrey’s commendable journey, log onto to www.rideforpeace.info